Rached Ghannouchi, head of the Tunisian Ennahda party which leads the country's coalition government, has deemed the movement aiming to topple democratically elected President Mohammed Morsi in Egypt condemned to fail for lacking the support of the Egyptian people.
Claiming that the political campaign against Islamists in Egypt also has its repercussions in Tunisia, Ghannouchi stated, “Those opposing the Muslims in Egypt are doing the same thing in other Muslim countries. However, we believe that the Egyptian revolution will succeed. The stance of the people is very clear: They are on the side of political change and revolution.”
Tunisia is the birthplace for the uprisings that are now known as the Arab Spring, the first of which overthrew the dictatorial regime of President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in late 2011. The overthrow regime has sparked similar movements across Middle East and North Africa, with the toppling of decades-old dictatorships in both Egypt and Libya. Visiting London, where he lived in exile for 22 years during the dictatorship of former President Ben Ali, Ghannouchi gave an exclusive interview to the Cihan news agency.
Morsi is the first Islamist head of Egypt -- before him, political participation of the Muslim Brotherhood had long been banned under oppressive regimes in Egypt. Asserting that the current protests are a reaction against Morsi by the groups that failed in last year's presidential elections, Ghannouchi saidd “[Those groups] are aiming to limit the powers of the president by undermining his position through protests. They are using the judiciary as a political instrument in their hands for this aim.”
Tens of thousands of Egyptians protested against Morsi on Friday and rival demonstrators threw stones after dark in Alexandria and the Nile Delta town of Al-Mahalla Al-Kobra. Morsi was due to ratify the constitution, hastily approved by an Islamist-dominated drafting assembly on Friday, later in the day, and to set a date for a referendum on it within 15 days.
Morsi has also antagonized many of the judges who must by law supervise the referendum. His decree nullified the ability of the courts, many of them staffed by Mubarak-era appointees, to countermand his measures, even though he has promised to uphold the independence of the judiciary.
Ghannouchi: History does not repeat itself
Ghannouchi summarized his thoughts with a motto, “History does not repeat itself,” claiming that dictatorship has ended in Egypt with no chance of coming back. But he added that the process of transition to a full-fledged democracy in the country would not be without its difficulties.
“Transitional periods do not always show a leap forward -- there could be some regressions [in the consolidation of the democracy]. However, in the end, there will be always a positive step towards democracy,” said the Tunisian leader.
Ghannouchi noted that the Arab world has been yearning for freedom after remaining “a dark region kept away from democracy” for decades as the rest of the world made democratic progress.
“On the other side of the coin, there is a counter-revolution movement [currently in Egypt], but this counter-revolution will not succeed,” Ghannouchi maintained.
‘Obama support to Palestine not guaranteed'
Touching upon second-term US President Barack Obama's firm support to Israel in terms of the recent Gaza assault, Ghannouchi noted that “Even though Israel feels discontent for the re-election of Obama, this would not automatically mean that Obama is likely to embrace the Palestinian cause and that the Zionist lobby in the US is weakening.”
Israel and the Hamas organization, which ruled Gaza region for the last five years, settled a cease-fire agreement last week to end the fiercest round of fighting between the two in nearly four years, resulting in a promise to halt attacks and a slight easing in the Israeli blockade constricting the Gaza Strip.
Medical officials in Gaza said 146 Palestinians, more than half of them civilians, including 36 children, have been killed in Israel's offensive.